Saturday, February 15, 2014

Library Olympics

There are, grievously, no Olympic events of any kind directly related to library work. However, Curling bears some real resemblance to elements of library work, especially when facilities management is trying to save a bit of money on our heating bill and when snow tracked in from the outside makes the floor slippery. In both Curling and library work you have to carefully place things just so. You think over your placement, line it up as best you can, and then other people come along and mess it all up. Then you go in and try to reorder it to your liking. Then people go in and mess it all up again. Over and over and over. At the library we are rarely awarded points in this process, and it is basically ceaseless, which, come to think of it, watching live curling late at night, is a bit of a match for Curling as well. On the other hand,  we rarely lose in shelving and can sometimes get away with a bit of reading while we wait for our opponents (I mean patrons) to shatter our careful work. In curling you just have to stand around bored, waiting and hoping that your opponents muff it.

I have participated in actual Library Olympics in some long ago In Service Days. But these events sadly lacked seriousness and were poorly planned. If I sound bitter, I am. The wounds are slow to heal. But fortunately after 15 years they are starting to fade. My specialist event was the speed stamping of library date due slips. For you youngsters out there there was a time when a receipt printer was unheard of and patrons got by with a few slips of paper slapped into an occasional book with its due date stamped on. In the mornings, and as needed, we would stamp large piles of slips. I invented my own technique that dazzled my co-workers and gave them an easy excuse to get me to stamp all the date dues. That the Olympic event for this hand stamping involved teams and devolved into chaos will never take away from the fact that I was once great, perhaps the greatest.

I wouldn't mind bringing back the Library Olympics, but only if we could do it right. We must have proper, well organized events like speed and marathon shelving, multiple item requesting, and perhaps something to do with telephone answering that worked sort of like figure skating; grace would be part of it, but also the technical skill of dealing with a lot of people on hold. It would be interesting to answer phones in front of a line of judges minutely examining your every utterance. Of course, the whole In Service day would have to be devoted to this Olympics, and we might have to close the library down for a few weeks to focus on training. Perhaps book wholesalers, or publishers, could sponsor us. Maybe we can even bring back the event of date due stamping. You always have to have a few retro, weirdo sports in any Olympics, like the luge, or biathlon, or, moguls, or, slopestyle, or curling, or...

Let's face it, any of them.


  1. I totally would have watched this on television!

    1. Oops, sorry it took me three years to respond, but, thought it's nice you would have watched this on television,I have to say that when I had a television, in the 80s, with nine active channels on it, there was nothing, just NOTHING I wouldn't watch on television.


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